Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

laid upon canvas such crude colors, other objects that the spirit of liberal such stiff forms, stuffs so much like inquiry—the sublime instincts of the tin, such glaring contrasts. Fancy an mind, the craving for the universal opera with nothing but false notes in and the infinite, the desire of ideal and it. We may see landscapes painted perfect things—will fall back. Let us blool-red, trees which split the canvas, take the day on which the hush of turf which looks like a pot of over- business leaves a free field for disin. turned green, Christs looking as if they terested aspirations. There is no more were baked and preserved in oil, ex- striking spectacle for a foreigner than pressive stags, sentimental dogs, un- Sunday in London.

The streets are dressed women, to whom we should empty, and the churches full. An Act like forthwith to offer a garment. In of Parliament forbids any playing to music, they import the Italian opera ; day, public or private ; the public: it is an orange-tree kept up at great houses are not allowed to harbor peocost in the midst of turnips. The arts ple during divine service. Moreover, require idle,delicate minds,-not stoics, all respectable people are at worship, especially not puritans,- easily shocked the seats are full : it is not as in by dissonance, inclined to visible pleas- France, where there are none but serure, employing their long periods of vants, old women, a few sleepy people, leisure, their free reveries, in harmoni- of private means, and a sprinkling of ously arranging, and with no other ob- elegant ladies ; but in England we ses ject but enjoyment, forms, colors, and men well dressed, or at least decently sounds. I need not say that here the clad, and as many gentlemen as ladies bent of mind is quite the opposite ; in church. Religion does not remain out and we see clearly enough why, amidst of the pale, and below the standard of these combative politicians, these la public culture; the young, the learned, borious toilers, these men of energetic the best of the nation, all the upper and action, art can but produce exotic or middle classes, continue attached to it. ill-shaped fruit.

The clergyman, even in a village, is not a Not so in science; but in science peasant's son, with not over much polthere are two divisions. It may be ish, just out of the seminary, shackled treated as a business, to glean and ver- in a cloistral education, separated from ify observations, to combine experi- society by celibacy, half-buried in me ments, to arrange figures, to weigh prob- diævalism. In England he is a man of abilities, to discover facts, partial laws, the times, often a man of the world, to possess laboratories, libraries, so- often of good family, with the interests, cieties charged with storing and in- habits, freedom of other men; keeping creasing positive knowledge; in all this sometimes a carriage, several servants, Englishmen excel. They have even a having elegant manners, generally well Lyell, a Darwin, an Owen, able to em informed, who has read and still reads. brace and renew a science ; in the cou. On all these grounds he is able to be in struction of the vast edifice, the ir dus- his neighborhood the leader of ideas, trious masons, masters of the second as his neighbor the squire is the leader rank, are not lacking; it is the great of business. If he does not walk in architects, the thinkers, the genuine the same path as the free-thinkers, he speculative minds, who fail them; is not more than a step or two behind philosophy, especially metaphysics, is them; a modern man, a Parisian, can as little indigenous here as music and talk with him on all lofty themes, and painting; they import it, and yet they not perceive a gulf between his own eave the best part on the road. Car- mind and the clergyman's. Strictly Tyle was obliged to transform it into a speaking, he is a layman like ourselves ; mystical poetry, humorous and pro- the only difference is, that he is a su phetic fancies ; Hamilton touched upon perintendent of morality. Even in his it only to declare it chimerical; Stuart externals, except for occasional nands Mill and Buckle only seized the most and the perpetual white tie, he is like palpable part,-a heavy residuum, posi- us; at first sight we would take him tivism. It is not in metaphysics that the for a professor, a magistrate, or a no English mind can find its vent. It is on tary; and his sermons agree with his

person. He does not anathematize himself principles, have a sort of innes the world; in this his doctrine is mod code, freely accepted and firmly estab ern ; he follows the broad path in lished, to which he may refer all his which the Renaissance and the Refor actions without bias or hesitation; how mation impelled religion. When these principles may be rooted by pracChristianity arose, eighteen centuries tice; how unceasing examination, perago, it was in the East, in the land of the sonal effort, the continual edificatiou Essenes and Therapeutists, amid uni- of himself by himself, ought slowly to versal dejection and despair, when the confirm our resolution in uprightness. only deliverance seemed a renunciation These are the questions which, with a of the world, an abandonment of civil multitude of examples, proofs, appeals lise, destruction of the natural instincts, to daily experience, * are brought for ard a daily waiting for the kingdom of ward in all the pulpits, to develop in man God. When it rose again, three cen- a voluntary reformation, a guard and turies ago, it was in the West, amongst empire over himself, the habit of self-re. laborious and half-free peoples, amidst straint, and a kind of modern stoicism, universal restoration and invention, almost as noble as the ancient. On when man, improving his condition, all hands laymen help, in this; and regained confidence in his worldly des- moral warning, given by literature as tiny, and widely expanded his faculties. well as by theology, narmoniously No wonder if the new Protestantism unites society and the clergy. Hardly differs from the ancient Christianity, if eve does a book paint a man in a disit enjoins action instead of preaching interested manner : critics, philosoasceticism, if it authorizes comforts in phers, historians, novelists, poets even, place of prescribing mortification, if it give a lesson, maintain a theory, unmask honors marriage, work, patriotism, in- or punish a vice, represent a temptaquiry, science, all natural affections tion overcome, relate the history of a and faculties, in place of praising celib character being formed. Their exact acy, withdrawal from the world, scorn and minute description of sentiments of the age, ecstasy, captivity of mind, ends always in approbation or blame; and mutilation of the heart. By this they are not artists, but moralists: it is infusion of the modern spirit, Christi- only in a Protestant country that we anity has received new blood, and will find a novel entirely occupied in Protestantism now constitutes, with describing the progress of moral sentiscience, the two motive organs, and, as ment in a child of twelve.t All coit were, the double heart of European operate in this direction in religion, life. For, in accepting the rehabilita- and even in the mystic part of it. tion of the world, it has not renounced Byzantine distinctions and subtleties the purification of man's heart; on have been allowed to fall away; Gerthe contrary, it is towards this that it manic inquisitiveness and speculations has directed its whole effort. It has have not been introduced ; the God of cut off from religion all the portions conscience reigns alone; feminine which are not this very purification, sweetness has been cut off; we do not and, by reducing it, has strengthened find the husband of souls, the lovable it. An institution, like a machine, and consoler, whom the author of the Imi: şike a man, is the more powerful for tation of Christ follows even in his tenbeing more special: a work is done der dreams ; something manly breathes better because it is done singly, and from religion in England; we find that because we concentrate ourselves upon the Old Testament, the severe Hebrew It. By the suppression of legends and Psalms, have left their imprint here. religious observances, human thought It is no longer an intimate friend to in its entirety has been concentrated whom a man confides his petty desires, on a single object-moral amelioration. It is of this men speak in the churches, ruse the sermons of Dr. Irnold, delivered in the

* Let the reader,

amongst many others, pe gravely and coldly, with a succession of School Chapel at Rugby sensible and solid arguments ; how a

The Wide Wide World, by Elizabeth man ought to reflect on his duties, mark novels of Miss Yonge, and chiefly tbove a

Wetherell (an American book). See also the them one by one in his mind, make for | George Eliot.

his small troubles, a sort of affection- | the future ; its force and direction wil. ate and quite human priestly guide ; produce the present and future civilizaIt is no longer a king whose relations tion. Now that great historic violences and courtiers he tries to gain over, and -I mean the destructions and enslave. from whom he looks for favor or place; ments of peoples—have become almost we see in him only a guardian of duty, impracticable, each nation can develop and we speak to him nothing else. its life according to its own conception What wi: ask of him is the strength to of life; the chances of a war, a discovery, be vir tuous, the inner renewal by which have no hold but on details; nationai we become capable of always doing inclinations and aptitudes alone non good; and such a prayer is in itself a show the great features of a national sufficient lever to tear a man from his history; when twenty-five millions of weaknesses. What we know of the men conceive the good and useful after Deity is that he is perfectly righteous; | a certain type, they will seek and end and such a reliance suffices to repre- by attaining this kind of the good and sent all the events of life as an approach useful. The Englishman has henceto the reign of righteousness. Strictly forth his priest, his gentleman, his speaking, righteousness alone exists; manufacture, his comfort, and his the world is a figure which conceals it, novel. If we wish to know in what but heart and conscience sustain it, and sense this work will alter, we must inthere is nothing important or true inquire in what sense the central concepman but the embrace by which he holds tion will change. A vast revolution it. So speak the old grave prayers, has taken place during the last three the severe hymns which are sung in centuries in human intelligence, --- like the church accompanied by the organ. those regular and vast uprisings which, Though a Frenchman, and brought up displacing a continent, displace all the in a different religion, I listened to them prospects. We know that positive dis. with a sincere admiration and emotion.coveries go on increasing day by day, Serious and grand poems, which, open- that they will increase daily more and ing a path to the Infinite, let in a ray more, that from object to object they of light into the limitless darkness, reach the most lofty, that they begin and satisfy the deep poetic instincts, by renewing the science of man, that the vague desire of sublimity and mel- their useful application and their phil. ancholy, which this race has manifest- osophical consequences are ceaselessly ed from its origin, and which it has unfolded ; in short, that their universal preserved to the end.

encroachment will at last comprise the

whole human mind. From this body V.

of invading truth springs in addition

an original conception of the good and As the basis of the present as well the useful, and, moreover, a new idea as of the past ever reappears an inner of church and state, art and industry: and persistent cause, the character of philosophy and religion. This has its the race; transmission and climate power, as the old idea had; it is har naintained it; a violent perturba- scientific, if the other was national ; it is

a tion--the Norman Conquest-warped supported on proved facts, if the other it; fixaily, after various oscilations, it was upon established things. Alreaáy was manifested by the conception of a their opposition is being manifested; special ideal, which gradually fashioned already their labors begin; and we may oz produced religio.1

, literature, insti. affirm beforehand, that the proximate tations. This fixed and expressed, it condition of English civilization will was licnceirrin tic movací ve 20:55; depend upon their divergence or their * explains the probeer om it: drvendes i agreement.

HISTORY

OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.

BOOK V.

MODERN AUTHORS.

ent.

INTRODUCTORY NOTE. century. The one is national, the other Euro

pean. On the one hand, special to this peo in translator thinks it due to M. Tainé tople, their literature is an inquiry instituted int state, that the fifth book, on the Modern Am humanity, altogether positive, and consequent thors, was written whilst Dickens, Thackeray, ly only partially beautiful or philosophical, but Macaulay, and Mill were still alive. He also very exact, minute, useful, and moreover very gives the original preface of that book:- moral; and this to such a degree, that some

“This fifth book is the complement to the times the generosity or purity of its aspirations History of English Literature; it is written raises it to a height which no artist or philosoon another plan, because the subject is differ- pher has transcended. On the other hand, in

The present period is not yet completed, common with the various peoples of our age, and the ideas which govern it are in process of this literature srbordinates dominant creeds formation, that is, in the rough. We cannot and institutions to private inquiry and estabtherefore as yet systematically arrange them. lished science. I mean, to that irresponsible When documents are still mere indications, tribunal which is crected in each

man's indihistory is necessarily reduced to “studies; vidual conscience, and to that universal author. knowledge is moulded from life ; and our con- ity which the diverse human judgments, muclusions cannot be other than incomplete, so tually rectified, and controlled by practice, bor: long as the facts which suggest them are un

row from the verifications of experience, and finished. Fifty years hence the history of this from their own harmony, age may be written; in the mean time we can

“Whatever be the judgment passed on these but sketch it. I have selected from contem- tendencies and on these doctrines, we cannot, porary English writers the most original I think, refuse them the merit of spontaneity minds, the most consistent, and the most con- and originality: They are living and thriving trasted; they may be regarded as specimens, plants. The six writers described in this yolrepresenting the common features, the oppos- ume, have expressed efficacious and complete ing tendencies, and consequently the general ideas on God, nature, man, science, religion, direction of the public mind.

art, and morality. To produce such ideas we “They are only specimens. By the side of have in Europe at this day but three nations Macaulay and Carlyle we have historians like England, Germany, and France. Those of Hallam, Buckle, and Grote ; by the side of England will here be found arranged, dis Dickens, novel-writers like Bulwer, Charlotte cussed, and compared with those of the other Brontë, Mrs. Gaskell, George Eliot, and two thinking countries." rany more; by the side of Tennyson, poets ike Elizabeth Browning ; by the side of Stuart Mill, philosophers like Hamilton, Bain, and Herbert Spencer. I pass over the vast numher of men of talent who write anonymously in

CHAPTER I. reviews, and who, like soldiers in an army, display at times more clearly than their generals he faculties and inclinations of their time and

The Nobel-Pickens. their country. If we luok for the common marks ir. this multitude of varied minds, we WERE Dickens dead, his biography which I have already pointed out! . One of burial of a celebrated man, his friends shall, I think, find the two salient features might be written. On the day after the these features is proper to English civilization, he other to the civilization of the nineteenth I and enemies apply themselves to the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »